Kia Picanto review
The stylish Kia Picanto rivals the Hyundai i10, with low running costs and a seven-year warranty
The second-generation Kia Picanto rivals the likes of the Hyundai i10, Fiat 500 and Ford Ka. The first-generation Picanto was a huge success in the Scrappage Scheme and this latest model offers even more value, but with a dose of sophistication, too. The Kia Picanto is characterised by small, chunky dimensions which give it a bolder look - it goes quite in tandem with the "small yet mighty" tagline. This, combined with Kia's distinctive 'tiger-nose' grille, helps the car compete with the likes of the new i10 and Fiat 500. The Kia Picanto is available in a practical five-door version and a sporty three-door. The 2011 Picanto has a longer wheelbase than the car it replaced, which means it's more spacious in the back, and boot space has improved, too. There are two efficient and quiet petrol engines which makes the Kia Picanto excellent for nipping around the city. The Kia Picanto comes in a wide range of trim levels, ranging from entry-level 1 to top-of-the-range White, Equinox and City models. All models are well equipped and mid-range 2 cars get alloy wheels, all around electric windows and bluetooth.
Our choice: Picanto 1.25 '2' ISG
The Kia Picanto has distinctive, chunky dimensions which means it gets more of an upmarket look than the previous generation. It gets the classic Kia 'tiger-nose' grille and oversized headlights and air intakes which give it plenty of road presence for such a small car. The new, sporty three-door model is similar to the five-door in its dimensions, but gets a larger grille opening with either silver or red trim around the edge. As well as this, it gets a wider front bumper and chrome-tipped twin exhausts at the rear. This design is carried through to the interior, where the dashboard has been shaped to mimic the tiger snout grille. The Picanto range is available in a wide variety of colours, with the three-door available in Clear White, Bright Silver, Blaze Red and Galaxy Black. The five-door version, meanwhile, gets all of the above, plus: Lemongrass, Blue Breeze and Fuchsia Blush. The three-door Kia Picanto is available in 1, 1 Air, City, White, and Equinox specifications. The Kia Picanto White is a recent addition to the line-up and gets 15-inch alloy wheels, parking sensors, Bluetooth and air conditioning. Meanwhile, five-door versions are available in 1, 1 Air, 2 and 3 specifications. Entry-level models come with electric windows, a trip computer and MP3 connectivity, but unfortunately, have to make do with 14-inch steel wheels.
The Kia Picanto comes with two efficient petrol engines - a 68bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine and an 84bhp 1.2-litre. The 1.0-litre is available with 1, 1 Air, 2 and City versions, but it feels a little sluggish and it strains at higher revs. The punchy 1.25-litre, meanwhile, is available in 2, 3 and White specifications - this engine handles motorway speeds better and has enough power for overtaking. The 1.0-litre manages 67.3mpg and emits a tax-free 99g/km of CO2. The 1.25-litre returns decent fuel economy, too, managing 60mpg. The steering of the Kia Picanto is direct and the controls are light, which makes it great for navigating through city or town traffic.
The Kia Picanto received a disappointing four-star Euro NCAP crash test rating - a severe blow to the brand considering the standard among most new cars is a five-star rating. The Picanto was penalised because entry-level European-spec models don't come with ESP fitted as standard - UK models do, however, so it's not too much of a concern. It received an 86 per cent rating for adult occupant protection and standard kit includes ABS, Isofix child-seat fixings as well as driver, passenger, side and curtain airbags. The Picanto comes with Kia's seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty, which is great for a car as small as the Picanto. Plus, Kia finished seventh in our 2013 manufacturer rankings survey - a testimony to Kia's constant improvement over the past half decade. The second-generation Kia Picanto also entered the survey for the first time and finished an average 68th in the top 100 cars. Owners were disappointed with its firm ride, poor performance and lack of practicality, however.
The five-door version of the Kia Picanto boosts practicality - an extended wheelbase means accessibility to the rear bench is a lot easier. The Kia Picanto has 200 litres of boot space, which is better than the Fiat 500, but not enough to worry the Hyundai i10, Volkswagen up!, Skoda Citigo or SEAT Mii. However, it comes with 60:40 split-folding rear seats as standard, and when these are folded, boot space increases to 870 litres. A wide-shaped boot opening also makes loading larger objects a lot easier. The glove compartment is reasonably sized and there are plenty of storage cubbies, plus, mid-range versions get a hand twin cup holder underneath the centre console. It's just a shame that the steering wheel only adjusts for rake and not reach.
The petrol engines on offer with the Kia Picanto are more economical than you'd think - the 68bhp 1.0-litre returns 67.3mpg and emits just 99g/km of CO2, making it tax free. The larger 1.25-litre still manages 60mpg, and emits 109g/km of CO2, but this can be improved to 65.7mpg and 100g/km of CO2 by adding the EcoDynamics stop-start system. Those wanting to keep running costs low should avoid the four-speed automatic gearbox - the White 1.25 auto model emits 130g/km of CO2 and returns just 50.4mpg. Kia Picanto insurance groups are relatively low, and it comes with Kia's outstanding seven-year/100,000-mile warranty - great for motorists looking for a great buy on a budget.